I had the great pleasure to meet Jorge Branco and Marina De Lima from the World Travelers Association when they visited New Jersey back in March. I was so impressed by their non-profit organization that I decided to interview them.
They both go live in another country for a few months before inviting a group of people to join them for adventure and volunteering. They are currently in Thailand and will be heading to Nepal to run their trek to Everest Base Camp in the spring. Follow them on Instagram or Twitter for stunning pictures and heartwarming stories.
Marina was a yoga teacher in New Jersey before joining Jorge in his international project a few years ago. She is now teaching yoga in whatever country they find themselves in and running the volunteering/adventure projects with Jorge.
This interview explores how she decided to leave her home and steady income in New Jersey to join Jorge in his travels, and how she got into yoga in the first place. Enjoy, and be inspired! This makes me want to do something amazing with my own life!
What was your life like before you came across meditation and yoga?
For over ten years, before I became a yoga teacher, I worked as Reality Television Producer and ran my own reality casting agency. I worked for every major TV network and a lot of the big name reality shows. I had a very typical New York City life where I was overworked at a highly stressful job and spent my free time partying, drinking, and finding ways to buy myself happiness that I felt I had worked hard to deserve.
A lot of my pleasures came from material things and spending money. I was always a travel junkie and because I worked as a freelancer I would plan trips as many times a year as I could. Sometimes the only thing getting me through a project would be the promise of an escape that I would spend hours and researching and booking. But like a lot of the people I knew, I was faking it. Although for a long time I loved my job, I still felt like a fraud 80% of the time and would make excuses for the lack of purpose in my career.
I was raised in a Catholic home and always a connection to God and my own spirituality, but I had lost that and turned into a cynical adult who only saw the beauty in things only if it was covered in gold or champagne. My personal relationships were suffering because I was so obsessed with maintaining the facade of a life I had created. At the rate I was living I would have had a stress induced heart attack by 40 and have no family, friends, or partner by my side.
I no longer wanted to be the version of myself that I had become and I knew that it had to start by quieting my mind and my thoughts and reconnecting with my spiritual side. Instead of going to church, I chose to start meditating. I needed a way to deal better with myself and begin to manage and understand my emotions, and just like that I found yoga.
What was the turning point for you that made you decide to seek other ways of handling things?
Right around the time that I was turning 30 I began taking inventory of all the areas of my life; my career, my relationship with my boyfriend, friends, and family, and my relationship with myself. I realized I was living in the apartment I wanted, working in the career I had crafted and nurtured, was dating a guy who was supposed to be my equal, and had tons of friends with a social calendar that was booked for months in advance. I was living my dream life… and I was so unhappy. I spent so much time creating this life that I thought I was supposed to have and that to outsiders looked perfect, and inside I was slowly drowning. For the first time I started to imagine a life where I wasn’t a television producer, where I didn’t live in the New York City area, where I was free and living an authentic true version of myself.
I started to go to yoga because I became interested in the idea of an exercise that was more linked to spiritually, breath, and understanding of the body and spirit. I needed something that was hard and not just physically hard, but something that would calm my monkey mind and maybe convince me that I was just going through a moment and that my crazy thoughts would pass. I signed up for a week trial to my local studio six years ago and I was instantly hooked. I was physically fit but this was different; I was moving differently, sweating differently, breathing differently than I’d ever done before. And then I had my first savasana cry and for the first time ever in my adult life I felt free.
What self-help tools have you tried, and which one had the greatest impact on your life?
I gave a lot of tools a chance in the beginning of my journey. I was trying to find tools that were authentic and felt like I wasn’t forcing them or pretending to understand them. I tried various yoga styles, meditation styles, tapping, body work, tantric dance, reiki, sound therapy, watsu therapy, acupressure, acupuncture, shamanic practices, and anything that I found interesting and that I thought could potentially become a consistent figure in my life.
Oddly enough a lot of them have stuck but my primary healing and self-help tool is my yoga practice. Yoga is a moving meditation and although I still practice seated meditation, I feel the most connected to spirit and most present when I am practicing and teaching yoga. My cellular vibration is higher, my thoughts clearer, my nervous system becomes settled. To me is the best high I have ever felt.
I am now a reiki healer and enjoy receiving reiki and working with ancient healing and traditional Chinese medicine. I have recently started to examine shamanic healing and started a journey to create a deeper connection to my environment and mother nature to build more universal love and compassion.
What challenges did you have to overcome in order to pursue your passion?
When I first started toying with the idea of making a life out of being a yoga teacher and healer, I knew that it would be a long road. I had to begin to break up and undo the ties of my old life. For so long I was so deeply associated with my old career that it defined who I was as a person. When I started acting differently and speaking about the new work of my life, my friends and family thought I was crazy. It made me second guess myself. I think the hardest part was staying dedicated to what brought me happiness and peace and trust that everyone else in my life needed their own time to catch up to who I was now becoming.
Explain what your product or service is about.
A year and half ago, after meeting someone who was out in the world living their dream (Jorge), I decided to take the leap of faith and leave behind my life in America to pursue my dream of teaching yoga internationally and bringing people on yoga and adventure retreats. Since then, Jorge and I have lived in five countries together and have brought people to seven countries all over the world to share life changing experiences. Jorge and I now run World Travelers Association, a Non-Profit Organization with a mission to ‘Travel for a Purpose’. I am currently expanding beyond Yoga Teacher and Retreat Leader and in 2018 will begin running Yoga Teacher Training to empower others with tools to follow their dreams and continue on their journey of healing and love.
How did you develop your product or service and decide to offer it to the world?
I am very committed to putting in the time as a student in order to be able to become a better teacher. I have logged various hours training with my yoga teachers as well as traditional Chinese medicine professionals, Shamanic Teachers, mediation teachers, and by having a daily commitment to self-study. As far as being a retreat leader and guide, my retreats are compiled of adventures that I have experienced first hand. Jorge and I are dedicating our lives to living in countries for months at a time before groups arrive so we can offer our travelers a unique and carefully planned trip.
How can people learn more about it or contact you?
Facebook: Marina De Lima Yoga